“Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will exult in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NRSV)
The events of the past weekend in Paris have left us speechless as we again must determine our response to catastrophic events that occur in the world in which we live—especially events that disrupt our sense of safety and security. The threat of terrorists home and abroad is pushing the human heart to new levels of fear and anxiety. Dwindling resources (financial and natural) and strained relationships are creating atmospheres of hopelessness and hostility as people attempt to create their own solutions to living in these perilous days.
In our text, Judah was living in times similar to ours where there was a continual bombardment of “bad news”. Habakkuk, one of the Old Testament prophets, was given the burden of proclaiming God’s Word during a time of unprecedented political, military, economic, and social upheaval for Judah. Sound familiar? Judah’s religious unfaithfulness, their perversion of justice and disregard for the Mosaic covenant, would result in punishment by God—70 years captivity in Babylon. While Habakkuk didn’t fully understand what God was doing during this critical time, he chose to trust God completely. After much prayer and inquiry of the Lord, he obediently received the Word from God and the understanding that “the righteous will live by their faith” (Hab. 2:4).
Habakkuk ends his judgment prophecy with an expression of full confidence in the God of his salvation. Habakkuk expresses his trust in God by describing his indifference to the loss of external indicators of God’s blessings– prosperity and agricultural abundance. Although there would be “neither blossom, nor fruit” and there would be “olive failure, no food, no flock nor herd”, Habakkuk would rejoice in the LORD. Why would Habakkuk rejoice? Because he knew the true source of His security (Ps.18:2-3). Habakkuk affirmed his unswaying confidence in the Sovereign LORD who would make him “as surefooted as a deer and bring him safely over the mountains” (Hab. 3:19). God would insure his safety and restoration.
To live by faith as God directed Habakkuk is not bright-eyed optimism or wishful thinking. Optimism is often based on an expectancy of the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation. “Faith to live by” is placement of our trust and confidence in God—His love, His presence, His power—regardless of the outcome. Life in the 21st century is hard BUT GOD is able to be whatever we need to handle the most difficult circumstances—our healer (Luke 4:18), our provider (Matt. 6:33), or our protector (Ps. 45:1-2). God has ordained (prepared) us for such a time as this. Therefore, let us not live fearfully but let us live by faith and boldly proclaim “I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength” (Hab. 3:18-19a).
Good to the Last Byte…
Whether Baby Boomer or Millennial, life lived apart from the presence and power of God will be difficult. Place your confidence in the True Source of Life and Security (today, tomorrow, and throughout eternity). God is more than able (Ep. 3:20).